Next Up: A House for Mr. Biswas
You guys voted for the next novel last week, and A House for Mr. Biswas it is.
This novel is V.S. Naipaul’s only appearance on the Time list. Time describes the novel as such:
A House for Mr. Biswas is the life story of a man who wanted only a home, but who was a magnet for misfortune, oppression and humiliation, “a wanderer with no place he could call his own, with no family except that which he was to attempt to create out of the engulfing world of the Tulsis.” Mohun’s survival is a triumph of resilience and persistence and humor, an epic of dignity and self-respect doggedly clung to.
A few other facts about A House for Mr. Biswas and V.S. Naipaul:
- The novel was published in 1961 and is often thought of as Naipaul’s signature work.
- It was adapted to a stage musical directed by Monty Norman.
- Biswas was also adapted for a two-part radio dramatization for BBC Radio in 2006.
- The novel is based on Naipaul’s childhood experiences.
- In addition to Mr. Biswas, Naipaul has written more than a dozen other novels and more than a dozen pieces of nonfiction.
In 1983, Naipaul had this to say about A House for Mr. Biswas:
The book took three years to write. It felt like a career; and there was a short period, towards the end of the writing, when I do believe I knew all or much of the book by heart. The labour ended; the book began to recede. And I found that I was unwilling to re-enter the world I had created, unwilling to expose myself again to the emotions that lay below the comedy. I became nervous of the book. I haven’t read it since I passed the proofs in May 1961.
Can you imagine not reading your own novel for more than 20 years? Sounds like writing it was an emotional experience for him.
Like so many other books I’ve read from the list, I have no idea what to expect.
Many of you guys recommended A House for Mr. Biswas, so tell me why I’m going to like it!